Mitsubishi Doomsday Clock - When Do We Start Counting? UPDATE: Right Now.

Mark Stevenson
by Mark Stevenson
mitsubishi doomsday clock when do we start counting update right now

UPDATE: Mitsubishi has officially announced they will close the Normal, Ill. plant and are looking for a “strategic buyer.” This article was originally written a couple of hours before the announcement. Our Mitsubishi Doomsday Countdown starts right now, putting Mitsubishi’s Best-Before Date at Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

When Suzuki decided to stop building their last self-produced model in North America, the seven-seater XL7, in the midst of the U.S. economic crisis, it was just another nail in the coffin for that looked to be inevitable — the end of Suzuki sales in North America.

The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada — a plant that still cranks out GM products to this day — was an integral part of Suzuki’s success and ultimate demise. Much like the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi facility, the CAMI plant started as a joint venture between General Motors and its new Japanese BFF.

General Motors, like Chrysler, wanted to leverage product from Japanese automakers. Chrysler went after sports cars while GM affixed the badges of many brands — Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Geo, Passport and Asuna — to the grilles of Sidekicks and Swifts to sell on the lots of its own dealers.

The CAMI plant gave Suzuki a local presence. People bought the Sidekick and its GM-badged brethren in droves — right up until the point they didn’t.

Suzuki, too little and too late, cut its ties with CAMI on May 12, 2009. However, the Normal story is a fair bit different, as it wasn’t Mitsubishi to pull out of the joint venture. In 1991, Chrysler divested part of its share in the joint venture and plant, giving Mitsubishi overall management control. Two years later, Chrysler would sell the remainder of Diamond-Star Motors to Mitsubishi, effectively ending the formal joint-venture partnership. DSM ceased to exist in 1995 when the joint-venture company was renamed Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America.

For Suzuki, it took 907 days after the end of manufacturing before the company packed it in for good in the U.S.

During the economic crisis, I was one of the many who also predicted the end of Mitsubishi in America.

Today, I’m not so sure.

Mitsubishi is making gains in sales, even if those gains are mostly on low-margin products. Also, there is a fair amount of new product on the horizon if the rumor mill is to be believed, and it could prop up the small Japanese automaker long enough to sort out its issues before the next inevitable recession.


Will Mitsubishi meet the same fate as Suzuki? Are we in for a 907-day wait before its ultimate end? We will see. If/when Mitsubishi makes a formal announcement on the future of Normal, we will start the clock.

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  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Jul 25, 2015

    This should be interesting to watch. Mgt appears to be working with UAW for a sale too, another interesting development (although this may simply be smoke and mirrors). I'd also be interested to know when the latest labor contract was set to expire and how many of the employees are at or near UAW retirement age as I speculated last year.

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Jul 25, 2015

      The UAW isn't a factor here. There is simply not much demand for used automobile manufacturing plants. Many of them just sit vacant.

  • Wmba Wmba on Jul 25, 2015

    What, no Chrysler fanbois claiming it was all Mercedes Benz's fault? This columnist at Car&Driver says so, and its interesting to read how the Germans set themselves up at Normal: But home in Japan back in 2000, Mitsubishi was in a huge safety cover-up scandal concerning 20 years of not admitting defects to Japan's equivalent of NHTSA, which quickly eroded their market share. Sales dropped over 50% in Japan, and even then people wondered if the company would close. Twelve executives were arrested. Wheels literally falling off trucks caused the scandal, because like GM, Mitsubishi covered up. Of course, the new management promised everything would change, but they lied, and in 2012 got caught again covering up defects: Yes, they are honorable folks, Mitsubishi (/sarc). No wonder the whole thing is circling the drain, and really who needs this bunch of complete losers running a company? Probably why their heiretsu isn't falling over itself awarding Mitsubishi Motors more credit - they're not considered trustworthy even at home. The usual commenter opinions above are US-centric, as is the wont of Americans. But in the wider world, Mitsubishi is an even worse outfit than you had probably thought, proving that given a chance even the Japanese business world also suffers from bad, possibly criminal management tactics, and public bowing and scraping to be better that signifies nothing much at all, except deception and an unwillingness to change no matter what.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.